Interim managers add experiences to your business

CEO and partner in Nextt Management, Christian Hvashøj has many years of experience in matching the right interim manager with Danish companies. Continue reading to receive advice on how you can use an interim manager and create value in your company.

What is an interim manager?

“It is a two-part concept- interim means temporary and manager means leader-in other words a temporary manager. In Nextt Management’s viewpoint, an interim manager is a managerial resource who brings extra capacity, that one can attach to the business for a borrowed time. That being said, there are some terms and contractual models here, that makes the process for the business a flexible one, because the business can choose if it should be months, full time or part time. Also the company can decide whether there should be possibility for a permanent hiring or just a prolongment of the position.”

What is the difference between an interim manager and a management consultant?

“On the surface, the two concepts can seem relatively similar, but there is a clear difference: When you hire a management consultant, then you are expected for him or her to lay the groundwork which you then base your decisions on- such as a market analysis or a strategy. If you hire an interim manager, however, then you give the manager the mandate to make decisions based on the analysis and strategy they have conducted. Unlike the management consultant however,  the interim manager will execute his or her strategy. This makes him or her responsible both for the business but also the employees.”

The mandate is crucial

”Interim managers are used to making decisions and they are skilled at it. This is because the interim manager is used to work in companies that are in a middle of a crisis. They know what it means to be a CEO and in charge of 500 workers or to move production to a different country. All tasks that require the manager to take full responsbility for their actions. On top that, interim managers are independent and have therefore a whole other understanding of risk than permanent employees, which the company can benefit from. Hence, we aim to get the interim manager into job assignments where they use these tools”

Is there a preferred age for an interim manager

“Customers often have three criteria when we first meet them: Age, education and industry experience. However, we beg to differ- as it is our experience that it is not necessarily the most important parameters to evaluate from. You may be too young because you don’t have the experience, but if you have the experience, but you are young, then that is fine too. Converesly, there is no upper limit to how old you must be. Drive, execution power, desire and the ability to learn are the essentials. Industry experience can sometimes matter, but being able to work across industries as a manager is often equal to a high success rate because you are not bias and locked in with the habits of a specific industry. And lastly, there is the education – here the experience is far more important than what you read 25 years ago. To be a good interim manager, it is much more about managerial experience.”

When should one use an interim manager?

”One should use an interim manager when you need to execute and create change. Interim managers does not need 100 days to find their grounds- he or she can enter the business in an instance. And there are many situations where one could use an interim manager. This could for instance be, when the employees have long been without a manager and are looking for leadership or if a company is experiencing a concrete challenge and do not have a long time to solve the problems. Other situations where an interim manager can be beneficial is when a company needs execution powers on senior executive levels.  Interim managers are not afraid to take on a challenge. Lastly, interim managers are free from any pre-perceived thought and ideas and political games within the company, allowing them to see things from an objective viewpoint.

How do we find the best candidate?

”We do a lot to try to understand the challenge which the client has so we can find the candidate that has the right competencies and experience to solve the challenge the company is faced with. Our primary task is not only to find a candidate, but also understand the challenge that the business is facing. We filter, and we have to understand what the client wants and needs. So we take upon us the task to gain an understanding of the full picture-the challenge-and from there find the right candidate.”

What areas of work can an interim manager solve?

”We solve mostly assignments that involve change management. Change management assignments are usually put into two categories; either turn around assignments where a mess needs to be cleaned up or a business experiencing fast growth and the need for experienced people who can execute while at the same time minimize risk is great. As long as there is change on the agenda, then interim managers is a possibility. Hence, it could be within digital transformation, economics, finance, production or general management.”

How can an interim manager make a difference in your business?

“Interim managers move things quickly, because they are ready to start work from day one. Typically they act in companies that are involved with change management, where the companies are aware of the fact that if they don’t do it right away then it will drive the company the wrong way. Interim managers can also be used when businesses are ready to be involved in a managerial shift. Here we in Nextt Managent an anonyonymus recruitment through full confidentially. So when for example a CEO steps down, then our interim can step in immediately

But let me give a concrete example where an interim manager has played a significant role: We had a large manufacturing company that was a subcontractor to a large, global industry where there had been huge price reductions and pressure from the big customers all the way through all the subcontractors – and this had almost lost the company’s earnings base. Therefore, they had to cut costs a lot and find new ways of working, and at the same time the market was developing quite a bit. For the same reason, people were looking to move production to China and find faster and better ways of developing products, and they chose to look at a new organization where they needed a COO responsible for production and development. The top management did not have a leader who could, so they came to us and bought experience based on their strategy work.”

How do we ensure that the wages are not pressed down when it is a fee-salary without vacation and pension?

“Knowing that people are aware of what they are worth and want as payment. Our job is ot ensure that the interim manager receives a premium in payment because they are available and come with great experience and can work immediately. Demand and a wide selection costs. On the other hand is the company not bound with the same criteria as a permanent hire..”

How should a company go and search for an interim manager instead of a permanent hire?

”It may be tricky when you have a concrete challenge or managerial task ahead of you which you know will take 12 or 18 months to solve, and things change quickly. If you have to start solving the challenge right away and not taking too big of a risk, then flexibility is the thing you need. Here, an interim manager can be the solution to the problem. If it so it a fish-bar in Hirtshals that needs a chief of manufacturing, an IT-business in Nørreport in need of CTO, a e-commerce business that has to grow, a concern that aims to integrate two warehouses or a concern abroad that has issues with their supply chain. The common denominator is that the task is concrete, and that you acknowledge that the challenge you have at hand needs to be acted upon in a fast manner.”

What results can an interim manager deliver?

”An real example is where a business had been given a report from McKinsey stating that they could save 30 million by taking different measures in their supply chain. The interim supply chain manager who was hired into the company was able to save them 50 million DKK, because he knew what had to be done more than the financials aspects, due to the fact that he had done it before. This is a good example to show that an interim manager can create value, despite only being their temporarily.

It is experience that counts.”